Just as the long summer is over, our long wait has also come to an end with Game of Thrones’s season 7 premiere.
And with it, winter truly begins.
All Freys Must Die: Winter Comes for House Frey
In a rare cold opening, Game of Thrones’s seventh season begins with a feast in the Twins, with Walder Frey presiding from the lord’s seat at the high table.
Yes, Walder Frey, who was killed last season by cold-blooded assassin Arya Stark.
Viewers would usually expect that this is some kind of flashback, perhaps to a time when the Red Wedding had just taken place, but to someone who has been rooting for a particular Stark all along, this would be a no-brainer.
Indeed, the “Walder Frey” who offers his precious Arbor Gold to his men while praising them for the Red Wedding is actually the youngest she-wolf. In a calculated move that has all but eradicated House Frey, Arya is then one step closer to her goal—to avenge her family by killing everyone who wronged them.
“When people ask what happened here, tell them the North remembers,” Arya instructs the terrified serving girl who has just watched her basically slaughter dozens of Frey men. “Tell them winter came for House Frey.”
The moment she lifts the mask she used is quite chilling to watch, especially when her icy speech is taken into account. Arya continues to embody the coldness that has been growing in her since her father died, a coldness that pretty much solidifies her place as the bloodiest Stark in existence. She walks among the corpses slowly, savoring what she has just done, her smile as pleased as could be.
(It is interesting to note that the path Arya was taking seemed to parallel quite nicely with Lady Stoneheart’s plotline in the books. Both are on a killing spree, both have no hope that they have living family, and both are as cold and harsh and unforgiving as the Northern winter.)
Arya’s kill tally keeps on growing, and her conscience, it seems, is now nonexistent.
Conscience, after all, was the thing that killed Ned Stark in the end. He had too much honor for his own good, and Arya?
She would not make the same mistake.
Storm beyond the Wall
Beyond the Wall, we see the Night King and his undead army marching, and they do bring the storm with them. (Jon Snow was not lying when he said that the true enemy “brings the storm.”) Among the ranks are dead wildlings and giants, making it a formidable army indeed. Of course, there’s also the fact that the Night King could reanimate his dead enemies and make them fight for him, all the more reason to do everything just to keep him away from the Wall.
Yet that would seem an unlikely thing to happen now, especially with Bran Stark arriving at Castle Black. The crippled Stark son was let past the Wall with Meera Reed after an ominous conversation with now Lord Commander Edd Tollett.
This might seem like a good thing, especially with Bran being closer than ever to Winterfell and his kin, but it might be the most terrible thing to happen yet as far as the kingdom’s safety is concerned.
See, the Wall had a ward against White Walkers, an old magic placed on it by the Children of the Forest. But this magic would be ruined once a link to the Night King was established,something that already happened when the Night King touched Bran Stark. With Bran now within the Wall, the realm would be vulnerable to a danger that had been kept away for a thousand years.
The Wolves of Winter
In Winterfell, the living are preparing for the war against the dead.
Jon, now King in the North, is organizing the Northern houses for a dragonglass hunt since dragonglass is the only material known to kill the wights. He wants to put every able person in the North to work, an “all hands on deck” kind of situation. Of course, this is met by dissent from one Lord Glover, who refuses to put a spear in his granddaughter’s hand.
But then, well, he is put in his place in the end. Lady Lyanna Mormont, resident boss lady and overall role model, announces that she would be doing her part in defending the North—in terrifyingly no-nonsense terms.
“I don’t plan on knitting by the fire while men fight for me,” she says. “I might be small, Lord Glover, and I might be a girl, but I am every bit as much a Northerner as you.”
Lord Glover, of course, hastens to beg the lady’s pardon, but said lady would have none of it.
“Indeed you are, my lady. No one has questioned—”“And I don’t need your permission to defend the North,” she shots, and both Brienne and Davos are pretty much ready to adopt the kid, who then tells Jon that every man, woman, boy, and girl on Bear Island would be trained for their tasks.
Then Jon delegates the protection of the Wall and its derelict castles to the Free Folk, led by ever-loyal Tormund. Tormund’s do-or-die attitude and loyalty are something rare and precious, and Jon is lucky to have both.
Next comes a brewing clash of wolves.
Jon could not punish the houses disloyal to House Stark during the fight with the Boltons by virtue of the famed Stark honor. However, Sansa, seemingly the only political strategist in the entire Stark family tree, questions if loyalty should not be rewarded and treason punished.
But Jon would not budge despite his expressions wavering because, let’s be real, Sansa is right in this, as she was the night before the Battle of the Bastards, and Sansa’s sound suggestion is again ignored in favor of two younglings pledging their young loyalty to House Stark.
Afterward, when the meeting is concluded, the two Starks have a conversation about what constitutes a good king. “Joffrey never let anyone question his authority,” Sansa points out. “You think he was a good king?”
Of course, this hurts Jon’s feelings, and Sansa has to do some damage control to his fragile ego. (Sorry, my frustrations over Jon’s failing in this regard are showing. Sure, the whole “can’t kick out a son for his father’s sin” thing is honorable, but he’d have to remember that he’s playing the game now, unwillingly chosen he might be. His ignorance and continued dismissal of Sansa’s political prowess could very well lead to things ending badly not only for him but also for the people he’s leading.)
The Lion and the Kraken: A Partnership to Rue
Cersei’s first act as queen of the realm is to get the floor painted with a map of Westeros. Jaime is not pleased about this and even less with Cersei’s refusal to talk about what happened with Tommen.
Later, they both get to meet the wild card Euron Greyjoy. With an armada of freshly made ships, Euron has gone to the capital to propose not only an alliance but also a marriage to the new queen. (He makes several digs at Jaime, to boot, and Jaime looks just about ready to murder him on the spot.)
Cersei declines both proposals, but Euron is not concerned. He promises to deliver her a gift that would change her mind before leaving, presumably to go retrieve this gift.
But what gift would it be? The last time any gift was delivered, we saw Tyrion presenting himself as such to the Dragon Queen. But this time, some book readers are speculating that Euron’s gift was the dragonbinder, the mystical Valyrian horn that could bind a dragon to one’s will. If true, Euron would have an ace up his sleeve, and Cersei would gain a powerful ally.
A Quest for Answers
The last time we saw Sam, we were in awe, just as he was, of the majesty of the Citadel. But as with anything in the world, most of that beauty masks a, well, shittier reality.
Sam is working as some sort of acolyte for the maesters of the Citadel, and this job entails cleaning up the daily dose of literal crap. (The whole “soup and poop” montage is honestly the worst I’ve ever seen on this gods-forsaken show, and that is saying something.)
His goal is to get answers for the Long Night, but the books for the subject are strictly off-limits to nonmaesters. So in classic Sam fashion, he steals the books.
Upon perusing the books, he discovers that a whole mountain of answers lies on Dragonstone itself. Indeed, the island of Dragonstone is a natural resource for dragonglass—a fitting detail since it was the home of the dragons.
A Vision through the Flames
Sandor Clegane finds his match in banter with the Brotherhood without Banners. His repartee with Thoros of Myr is funny to watch as is his conversation with Beric Dondarrion. But a rather comedic sequence (hello to the Hound knowing the term “topknot”) takes a turn for the serious with Thoros urging Sandor to look into the fire to see the answer to his questions about the Lord of Light.
At first, he is skeptical about it, seeing as he is deathly afraid of fire in the first place, what with his brother burning half of Sandor’s face with it, but then he sees something.
He sees a vision of the army of the dead.
He sees a vision of the coming war, at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, the very same castle to which Tormund Giantsbane will go in Jon Snow’s name.
(Tormund, we love you. Please don’t die.)
The Queen Has Arrived
After six years, six seasons, and sixty episodes, we finally see Daenerys Targaryen step foot on her ancestral home.
For the first time in a long time, dragons soar across Westerosi skies as the three fire-made-flesh children of the Queen fly toward her birthplace. (It was a dramatic scene, and I felt chills when Daenerys knelt and softly touched the ground.) Daenerys slowly walks up her home, with her entourage giving her a wide berth, possibly knowing how much this moment means to the Mother of Dragons.
There is the throne room upon which Aegon the Conqueror sat and ruled before establishing the Crownlands. Every surface of Dragonstone is rich with Targaryen history, and Daenerys is clearly feeling it, tugging down the leftover Baratheon banner from her hall.
Then she makes her way to the room of the Painted Table (which, oh no, don’t touch it—Stannis and Melisandre did the do on it once upon a time!) and stares out the large windows before turning to her council, asking, “Shall we begin?”
This season is going to be so much fun.
The next episode is titled “Stormborn,”a nod to one of Daenerys’s titles as she was born during a storm in Dragonstone.
The trailer shows Lord Royce telling Jon Snow, “A Targaryen cannot be trusted.” Then Cersei declares from the Iron Throne, “The Mad King’s daughter will destroy the realm.”
Yara Greyjoy suggests that Daenerys strike King’s Landing at once.
A glimpse of Nymeria, Arya Stark’s wolf, is seen.
Ellaria Sand kisses Yara, and Jon Snow chokes Petyr Baelish in Winterfell’s crypts.
It seems that Jon and the North would be hearing of the Dragon Queen’s arrival sooner rather than later, both of them without the knowledge that the other one is kin, and the Lannister queen would also be thinking up plans against her.
Will Arya finally reunite with her wolf? If so, it would be a massive boost to her own power, as it stands now, since in the books, Nymeria is leading a large wolfpack.
Will the realm at last feel what the Stormborn will bring into the Seven Kingdoms?
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